A Comprehensive Guide to A Level English Literature Recommended Reading List

Classic British Literature Must-Reads

Jane Eyre book cover

When it comes to English literature, the classics are a must-read. The works of authors such as Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and Charles Dickens have stood the test of time and continue to be celebrated. So, if you’re an A-level English literature student or just someone who loves a good read, here are some classic British literature must-reads:

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre is a novel that tells the story of a governess, Jane Eyre, who falls in love with her employer, Mr. Rochester. Set in the Victorian era, this book is a beautiful exploration of love, class, and gender. At the heart of the story is Jane’s struggle for independence and her desire for a meaningful life. This book is an essential read for anyone who loves a strong female protagonist and a timeless romance.

Bronte’s writing is both beautiful and emotive. She has an incredible gift for creating rich and complex characters that leap off the pages. Jane Eyre, in particular, is a character that you’ll find yourself rooting for throughout the book. Her story is one of survival, passion, and self-discovery. Bronte’s precise prose and vivid description will transport you to the moors of England and leave you breathless with emotion.

One of the reasons why Jane Eyre continues to be so popular is that it is a book that speaks to the human condition. Despite being almost 200 years old, the themes of this book are still relevant today. It is a book that explores the limitless potential of the human spirit and the power of love to conquer all.

If you haven’t yet read Jane Eyre, now is the time to do it. This book will leave an indelible mark on your heart and is a true masterpiece of English literature.

International Literature Gems for A Level English

International Literature Gems for A Level English

If you are an A Level English Literature student, you likely know that the curriculum is world-renowned for its wide array of literary works from across the globe. This can make it overwhelming to choose which books to prioritize reading and dissecting. To make the selection process easier, here are some international literature gems that you should definitely check out:

1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This masterpiece by the Colombian author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is a must-read for anyone striving to understand the literary significance of magical realism. The novel is set in the fictional town of Macondo and follows the surrounding family, the Buendias, over multiple generations. The book’s nonlinear narrative style is also notable and has cemented its place in the literary canon as a masterpiece of Latin American literature.

2. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

This groundbreaking novel from Nigerian author Chinua Achebe explores the complexities of Igbo culture in Nigeria before and after the colonial era. The story follows the protagonist, Okonkwo, as he navigates the challenges of being a leader in his community amidst the cultural changes that colonialism brings. The novel’s themes include religion, gender, and tradition, and it offers vital insight into the lived experiences of those affected by colonialism.

3. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

This mystery novel by Italian author Umberto Eco is set in a 14th-century Italian monastery. The protagonist, William of Baskerville, is a Franciscan friar and detective tasked with unraveling a series of murders that occur within the monastery’s walls. The novel is also notable for its exploration of themes like scholasticism, power, sexuality, and faith.

4. The Stranger by Albert Camus

This existentialist novel by French Algerian author, Albert Camus, is a short but impactful read that explores themes like alienation, death, and the absurdity of life. The protagonist, Meursault, is a detached and apathetic individual who faces a murder trial after killing an Arab man on the beach. The book invites readers to question the meaning and purpose of their lives in a way that is both challenging and enlightening.

5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This postcolonial novel by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini is a coming-of-age story that explores themes like guilt, betrayal, and redemption. The story follows the protagonist, Amir, as he navigates the complexities of his friendship with Hassan, a Hazara boy who works as his servant. The novel’s portrayal of life in Afghanistan before and after war invites readers to consider the human cost of conflict and explore the cultural nuances of the region.

These are only a few of the many international literature gems that A Level English Literature students can benefit from exploring. They offer vital perspectives on a broad range of themes and cultures, providing readers with an indispensable understanding of the world around them.

Modern and Contemporary Novels to Consider

Modern and Contemporary Novels to Consider

English literature is a rich landscape of celebrated classics and timeless masterpieces, but how do you find the best recommendations for modern and contemporary reads? As a level student, your reading list must include contemporary literature, which is why we’ve put together a list of recommended books that will challenge, inspire, and captivate you. Here are three of the best modern and contemporary novels that you should consider:

1. “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro

This 2005 novel by the Nobel Prize-winning author, Kazuo Ishiguro, tells the poignant story of three friends: Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy, who grow up together in a dystopian world where human clones are raised to be organ donors. The story is told through Kathy’s perspective as she navigates her way through a society that treats clones as less than human. Ishiguro explores themes such as identity, love, and the consequences of scientific progress. “Never Let Me Go” is a powerful, thought-provoking read that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

2. “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This 2013 novel by the globally renowned author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, tells the story of Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman, and her experiences as an immigrant in the United States. Through Ifemelu’s journey, Adichie explores themes such as race, identity, and the immigrant experience. “Americanah” is beautifully written, and Adichie’s prose will leave you spellbound. This novel is not only a literary masterpiece but also an essential commentary on race relations in contemporary society.

3. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

This seminal 1985 novel by the Canadian author, Margaret Atwood, is a must-read for anyone interested in feminist literature. “The Handmaid’s Tale” takes place in a totalitarian society called Gilead, where women are treated as property of the state and forced into sexual servitude. The story follows Offred, a handmaid whose only function is to bear children for her commander. Atwood’s novel is a brutal critique of patriarchal society and a warning about the dangers of extremism. “The Handmaid’s Tale” has recently been adapted into a popular television series, but the novel remains a classic of modern feminist literature.

These three novels represent some of the best modern and contemporary literature that English literature has to offer. They tackle important themes such as identity, race, and gender and offer insightful commentary on the world we live in. These books are sure to impress your teachers and leave an indelible mark on your reading experience.

Iconic Plays to Enhance Your Understanding

Iconic Plays to Enhance Your Understanding

English literature is home to some of the greatest plays of all time. From Shakespeare to Miller, there’s no shortage of plays to choose from to enhance your understanding and expand your knowledge of the literary world. Here is a list of some iconic plays worth exploring:

1. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Macbeth is a tragedy about the rise and fall of a Scottish general who receives a prophecy that he will become the King of Scotland. The play delves into themes of ambition and guilt, and is considered one of Shakespeare’s darkest plays. The play is filled with iconic quotes and phrases that have become famous in the English language. Reading Macbeth can give you a deeper understanding of Shakespeare’s works, and help you appreciate the depth and complexity of his writing.

2. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

A Streetcar Named Desire is a play that explores the life of Blanche DuBois, a fading southern belle who visits her sister and brother-in-law in New Orleans. The play delves into themes of desire, identity, and disillusionment. It is considered one of the greatest plays of the 20th century and is a must-read for anyone interested in American literature.

3. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Death of a Salesman is a play that portrays the last days of Willy Loman, a failing salesman who cannot accept the reality of his life. The play delves into themes of the American Dream, and the disparity between reality and perception. Reading Death of a Salesman can give you a deeper understanding of post-war American society, and its values and ideals.

4. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest is a play that pokes fun at the customs and conventions of Victorian society. The play is filled with witty dialogue and satire, and is considered one of the greatest comedies in English literature. Reading The Importance of Being Earnest can give you a deeper understanding of the literary genre of comedy, and help you appreciate the complexity of satire.

5. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Waiting for Godot is a play that portrays the lives of two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, who wait for the arrival of someone named Godot. The play delves into themes of the human condition, and the search for meaning and purpose. Reading Waiting for Godot can give you a deeper understanding of the literary genre of existentialism, and help you appreciate the depth and complexity of Beckett’s writing.

These are just a few iconic plays worth exploring in your journey to enhancing your understanding of English literature. Each play offers a unique perspective on the human experience, and can open doors to new insights and understandings. So, pick up a play and start exploring!

Poetry Collections to Explore for A Level English Literature


If you’re studying English Literature at A Level, then you’re probably aware of how important a strong understanding of poetry can be. From the Romantics through to modern-day poets, there is a wealth of poetry out there to explore and enjoy. Here is a list of five poetry collections that are definitely worth adding to your reading list:

1. “Selected Poems” by John Keats

John Keats

John Keats is considered one of the greatest Romantic poets ever to have lived, and for good reason. His poems explore themes such as love, nature, and mortality, all with a stunning lyrical quality. His “Selected Poems” collection is an excellent place to start for those looking to dive into his work, featuring some of his most famous pieces such as “Ode to a Nightingale” and “To Autumn.”

2. “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot

The Waste Land

T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” is considered one of the most important poems of the 20th century, and it’s easy to see why. This dense, complex work explores a wide range of themes, including disillusionment, anxiety, and the decline of Western civilization. It’s a challenging read, but one that provides ample rewards to those who take the time to unpack its meaning.

3. “Death of a Naturalist” by Seamus Heaney

Death of a Naturalist

If you’re looking for a more contemporary poet to explore, then Seamus Heaney might be just what you’re after. His collection “Death of a Naturalist” was published in 1966 and features poems that explore rural life and the natural world. Heaney has a gift for evoking a sense of place and time, and his work is both accessible and deeply affecting.

4. “Collected Poems” by W.B. Yeats

W.B. Yeats

W.B. Yeats is another giant of the Romantic tradition, and his “Collected Poems” are a must-read for any student of English literature. His work often explores themes such as mythology and the supernatural, with a particular focus on his native Ireland. His use of symbolism and metaphor is masterful, and his poems have a tendency to linger long in the mind.

5. “Ariel” by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath’s “Ariel” is a powerful collection of poems that explore themes of mental illness, family relationships, and mortality. Plath’s use of language is inventive and haunting, and her work has an intensity that can be difficult to shake off. If you’re looking for a poet who isn’t afraid to tackle tough subjects head-on, then Plath is definitely worth reading.

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